My Thoughts on Winning the Mabel’s Labels BlogHer ’10 Contest

drawing of woman writing at desk

I’ve been hesitant to write this post, out of sensitivity for the many entrants – especially the other 9 finalists – who did not get the same news I got last Saturday.  We had all set our hearts on winning the trip to BlogHer ’10, and most importantly the 1yr contract blogging with Mabel’s Labels’ The Mabelhood.  I know there were others who lost sleep just like I did last Friday night, and who watched impatiently for the news to roll out on Saturday.  And I know from experience how it feels when the bottom falls out when you see another person’s name instead of your own.

So this post is not to brag or boast or make anyone feel bad.  But I do think this experience has given me encouragement that should be shared, and that’s why I finally decided to post about it.

What’s funny is that as eager as I was to hear the announcement last Saturday, life (as it always does) took charge.  My son had an early-morning soccer game, and though I brought my web-ready phone to the fields, it died on me.  I then got overwhelmed trying to occupy my 2yo son (and keep him OFF the fields!!) while my 9yo played, and time just ran away from me.  Near the end of the game, I realized my husband had his Blackberry with him, so I decided to at least check my email.  Caitlin from Mabel’s Labels had emailed, asking me to call her.  I thought I was going to be sick.  Maybe it would be a gracious “Thanks, but no thanks” call?  I dialed alongside the soccer field, got the news that I had won, and immediately broke into tears.  Others were asking my husband if I was alright.  Though I hadn’t been able to tell him yet, he knew from my face that everything was not just alright, but fantastic.

Of course I’m happy I won.  But I’m happy for other, bigger reasons as well. 

I’m happy that all the sacrifices I’ve made to stay home and all the time I’ve put into trying to find a place for myself online are beginning to pay off.  Though I’ve been tempted time again to seek work outside the home (raising five children on one income is HARD), we’ve decided it’s best for our family that I stay and manage things here.  It’s motivated me to work harder at writing, blogging, networking, and seeking opportunities to make money in ways that (a) I love more than working in an office anyway, and (b) still allows me to put family first.  Obviously I know blogging for The Mabelhood is not going to make me independently wealthy, but it’s a validation that we women really CAN carve our own financial paths that never existed before our generation.

I’m also happy because the entry I submitted was wholly, unapologetically, passionately ME.  I put it all out there.  As much as I believe in the power of connection (hence the title of my blog:  Tree, Root, and Twig – because everything is connected), I am a fiercebeliever in the individual, and the power each of us possesses.  I have hardly written a post in my five years of blogging that contained so much of my heart in it.  To be out there on that wire, and then to be recognized for it, means so. much.  But not only was I recognized – so were you, all of you.  If what I said was that you are women (and a few men:  hello!) of great talent and power who may love the internet but don’t need it to survive, and if what the judges saw was some truth to that, then your power was celebrated in my win as much as anything else.  That’s really something to consider.

Finally, I’m happy because I have something a little special to get me through my days.  I told Caitlin, I feel like I have a diamond in my pocket.  I’m changing diapers and running kids to practice or work or wherever else, pulling dinner ideas out of nowhere and hoping we have enough toilet paper to last the day.  But in the middle of it all, I’ll remember this amazing experience – this diamond in my pocket – and remember there are jewels and riches to be had in everyday life as well.  What I know is that those riches come to all of us in time, if we’re willing to mine for a while.

Thank you to everyone who has sent congratulations and good wishes; it has meant more than you know.  I am grateful, humbled, excited, and ready to get to work!  See you at BlogHer!